introducing nick velten from stimmt.
It seems that everything is now digital. Remote working, Zoom meetings, virtual family events and online learning. Coronavirus has catalyzed a sprint towards a completely digital world. For Stimmt, a digital agency that strives to build ‘digital awesomeness’ through sleek technology and kick-ass design, the pandemic is a double-edged sword. Demand for digital products, webshops and identities is increasing as it becomes one of the few remaining ways to connect with customers. For Stimmt, this is only good news.
But the pandemic is also driving competition upwards and highlighting the need for truly exceptional work. And whilst founder Nick Velten may not be building survival strategies, the crisis is refocusing his mind on wider issues, including the need to look out for each other. We talked to Velten about starting his company when he was eighteen, the importance of a cohesive brand and the essential place of digital in the world.
You started Stimmt in 2008, it was your first company and you’re still here twelve years later. Why did you start it and what’s changed since then?
Indeed, I started in 2008, but it was not until 2010 that I hired my first colleague. I actually started even earlier than 2008, but I could only register at the Chamber of Commerce when I was eighteen. It was really a hobby that got out of hand. I always had a huge passion for digital – especially anything to do with the web – but I never intended to start an agency. I began to build small digital products and it just snowballed into people recognizing me as the maker. I remember someone in the pub saying "hey, aren't you the owner of Velten Media? You guys are making good shit!". I thought, I should do more of this. Velten Media was created and then rebranded to Stimmt last year.
As to what’s changed, pretty much everything apart from the culture and passion. We have larger clients and projects, a bigger team – almost twenty people – and now a lot of experience. And that first colleague who started in 2010 is still working here, ten years later. I still start every day, however, with the same energy, and that’s important to me. So within the company, a lot has changed, but it still feels similar to how it was at the start. Outside of Stimmt, the industry has boomed and there’s much more competition. Back in 2008, digital was considered, but it didn’t have the same urgency as it does now. That’s partly driven by demand and partly driven by the technologies that are available to us. Today, everyone is online and trends change daily. And with coronavirus, competition is being forced even higher. It’s exciting but challenging.
What’s the core aim with all of Stimmt’s work and why is that aim important in today’s world?
We design and develop websites, webshops and web applications. Crucially, however, we make a point of not just doing any project. We focus on ideas that can distinguish our clients and ourselves among the digital products and experiences that are so widely seen. We seek and strive for digital awesomeness. And the need for digital awesomeness is more important as time goes on. With the increasing size and dominance of e-commerce (we now serve many clients in that area), you realize that companies process thousands of orders per day and are competing with thousands of others. A truly impactful digital presence is a necessity.
How do you develop and design with the future of a company in mind?
We always take into account trends and long-term scalability. Both are vital. And part of that is continuously working on improvements to already made products, increasing conversion rates, optimizing current functionality and adding new capabilities. This is just as important as building a project initially.
Stimmt builds digital products and experiences that reflect a brand, but you also built your own brand. How is your brand reflected in Stimmt’s design?
The rebranding of Velten Media to Stimmt (launched in February 2019) is an example of the continuous work on our brand. The introduction of the new name and new visual identity gave us a massive boost and realigned our brand with how the company had developed. Our values and design are much more cohesive now, and as a result of that rebrand, we’ve seen a significant increase in applicants, have been able to review everything within our company and built a foundation to develop further in the coming years. Stimmt has truly become a brand that we are all proud of.
How is the pandemic affecting the company and how have you adapted?
Luckily, we are relatively unaffected by it primarily due to working in the digital world, but saying that, we do depend on the health of our clients. We’re never totally secure. We do, however, have completely transparent relationships with our clients, which is so important in times like these. Aside from that, most of the Stimmt team now work from home, but we’re used to operating remotely, so things have been going pretty smoothly so far. Recognizing how fortunate we are is definitely making us think of others who are less so. Fingers crossed; everything will return back to normal soon.
Do you feel the pandemic presents any opportunities for Stimmt?
Absolutely. We’re seeing an increase in the number of requests for new webshops as companies with physical stores are being limited by the outbreak. I said before that increasingly digital is the new normal, and coronavirus has really only sped that up, so businesses are now seeing (even more) the need to invest in online. We respond to that.
How has your personal mindset changed because of the outbreak?
I have, for the time being, become more cautious with certain decisions, expenses and investments. I believe that even working in an industry that can survive events such as this, it’s still wise to take stock of your company and be genuinely thoughtful about everything you do. I also think that if there is one positive lesson to be learned from all of this, it’s that in both our personal and business lives, we should all look out for each other a little more.